The legacy of Andrus Johani, an artist deemed to have had great talent, but whose life was cut short, remains limited, which is why his works are seldom seen at auctions. The work Potato Planters was mentioned both by Alfred Rõude, the biggest art collector of the First Republic, as well as the artist’s wife, the library scholar Helene Mugasto-Johani, in her book Andrus Johani omas ajas (Andrus Johani In His Own Time). The work was presented at the 21st exhibition at Pallas, where the legendary art theorist and critic Villem Raam called Johani a ‘decorative realist’, whose works are ‘inevitably penetrated by real life’.
The painting has also been reproduced as a postcard by Pallas and the Young Estonia Publishing House, which is a sign that the artistic association considered it to be among the best of the available works; and a graphite sketch has been preserved in the collection of Voldemar Erm, held at the Estonian Literary Museum. In addition to the book, Helene Mugasto-Johani has written in the magazine Kunst: ‘Andrus Johani puts a lot of effort into the creation of the painting Potato Planters (1939). He travelled out to the countryside on multiple occasions to keenly observe nature and to breathe in the scent of the earth /---/ He would often destroy his works if they did not live up to his standards. This painting, however, escaped such a fate, because it encapsulated his newfound feelings about nature’.
Along with the said painting, Haus Gallery’s spring auction will feature 51 works, with the selection appearing to be surprisingly extraordinary for the Gallery itself, offering a glorious overview of the history of Estonian art through the decades. The most prominent names in local art history and their most special works are represented. Among the most noteworthy are the self-portrait of Johannes Võerahansu and his 1930s landscape with ploughmen, and three works originating from the different creative periods of Elmar Kits, especially his early figure composition from 1942. There are also surprises from Ants Laikmaa, Lepo Mikko, Eerik Haamer, Andrei Jegorov, Adamson-Eric, Eduard Wiiralt and many other prominent creators.
The auction is being held at the Haus Gallery on Friday, 27 April, at 19.30 at Haus Gallery.
The works can also be seen prior to the auction on the Gallery’s website here.